School bus manager says seatbelts have pros and cons depending on accident

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Buses take more than 8,000 kids to and from schools each day in Sioux Falls, but there is not a law on the books in South Dakota requiring buses to have seatbelts.

Right now, School Bus, Inc. -- the contractor the Sioux Falls School District uses -- has 3-point seatbelts on its buses for pre-k kids and lap belts on the other buses.

"The three point seatbelts have advantages and disadvantages, just like the lap belts," Jim Schafer, manager of School Bus Inc., said.

He said people have to look at every accident individually because it depends on where the riders are sitting and what kind of crash has occurred.

"I've seen other crashes where the bus was on its side where and the bus had lap belts and children were hanging from the ceiling because the belts were too tight, so there are going to pros and cons either way each accident is going to be different," he said.

Schafer said the cost to install the three-point belts would also be about $15,000 per bus.

He said it would be up to the school district to figure out how to cover that cost and would likely have to pass that onto the riders.

There are currently 101 buses in the School Bus, Inc. fleet, which cover 358 routes in the Sioux Falls district.